Claiborne Fox Jackson

15th Governor of Missouri (1806-1862)

Claiborne Fox Jackson (April 4, 1806 – December 6, 1862) was a pro-Confederacy governor of the state of Missouri.[1] He was elected in 1860 and sworn in on January 3, 1861 as Missouri's 15th governor.[2] He remained in office for five months, until being effectively deposed on June 15, 1861. At that time he fled to Arkansas and joined the Confederacy. He died on December 6, 1862.

Claiborne Fox Jackson
15th Governor of Missouri
In office
January 3, 1861 – July 23, 1861
LieutenantThomas Caute Reynolds
Preceded byRobert Marcellus Stewart
Succeeded byHamilton Rowan Gamble
Member of the Missouri House of Representatives
In office
1836 – 1848
Member of the Missouri Senate
In office
Personal details
Born(1806-04-04)April 4, 1806
Fleming County, Kentucky
DiedDecember 6, 1862(1862-12-06) (aged 56)
Little Rock, Arkansas
Resting placeSappington Cemetery,
Saline County, Missouri
39°01′58″N 93°00′27″W / 39.032778°N 93.0075°W / 39.032778; -93.0075
Political partyDemocratic
  • Jane Breathhitt Sappington
    (m. 1831; died 1831)
  • Louisa Catherine Sappington
    (m. 1833; died 1838)
  • Elza Sappington
    (m. 1838⁠–⁠1862)
OccupationMerchant, farmer, politician
Military service
Years of service
  • 1832
  • 1861–1862
Rank Captain (1832)
Battles/warsBlack Hawk War
American Civil War

Early career


On April 4, 1806, Jackson was born in Fleming County, Kentucky.[1] His parents were Dempsey and Mary Jackson.[3] The Jacksons were tobacco farmers who owned many slaves.[3]

In 1826, Jackson moved to Franklin, Missouri where the Santa Fe Trail began.[1] The trail was an important link to trading with Mexico.[1] While the economy was poor in most of the region, Franklin was growing and becoming prosperous.[1] Jackson and his older brother opened a mercantile store in the town.[1] Most of the new residents were from the South and brought their slaves with them. They started farms along the Missouri River.[1] This became the center of slavery in Missouri.[1]

Political career


In 1836 Jackson entered politics representing Saline County, Missouri in the Missouri House of Representatives.[4] Between 1838 and 1842 he was a cashier at the state bank in Fayette, Missouri.[4] He was elected a state representative again in 1842, this time from Howard County, Missouri.[4] In 1844 and 1846, he served as Speaker of the House.[4] In 1848 he was elected to the Missouri State Senate.[4] In 1852 he was elected to the House of Representatives again.[4] From 1857 to 1860, he served as state bank commissioner.[4] In 1860, as a Democrat, he secured his party's nomination for governor.[4] He ran against Sample Orr in the general election and won.[2] He was sworn in on January 3, 1861.

Governor of Missouri


Jackson had won the nomination and election for governor by presenting himself as a moderate.[1] But he quickly showed himself to be a pro-slavery activist. Following Abraham Lincoln's election as President of the United States Jackson began to court support for Missouri's secession from the Union.[a][1] When Fort Sumter fell to the Confederates on April 14, 1861, Lincoln called for 75,000 volunteers to put down the rebellion.[1] Jackson refused Lincoln's call for volunteers from Missouri. Instead, he called for 50,000 volunteers to defend the state against the Union.[1] Jackson secretly contacted the Confederates and tried to get artillery for his militia.[1]

Jackson knew the most important resource in the state was the federal arsenal at St. Louis.[6] There was only a small detachment of Union soldiers that guarded the arsenal and were under the command of Captain Lyon.[6] But quietly, Lyon had sent almost all the gunpowder and weapons to safety in Illinois.[7] Also, the United States Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, had sent a letter to Lyon authorizing him to raise more companies of Union soldiers.[8] On May 6, Jackson sent his militia to camp near St. Louis in order to provoke the Union soldiers and perhaps secure their arms for his militia. However, on May 10, Lyon marched some 6,500 Union troops to surround the militia and arrest all of them.[9] Following the Camp Jackson Affair, Lyon was promoted to Brigadier general and took charge of all Union forces in the state.

On June 13, 1861, after failed negotiations with Governor Jackson, Lyon quickly moved his army to attack the pro-confederate forces at Jefferson City, Missouri, the state capital.[10] He moved quickly enough to catch them unprepared. On June 15, the Army of the West occupied Jefferson City.[10] Lyon installed a pro-Union government after Jackson and most of his militia retreated to the southwest corner of Missouri.[b][10] Lyon moved his army to go after the rebels. On June 17, both sides fought the Battle of Boonville which lasted only about 30 minutes.[10] The Union forces completely routed the pro-confederates.[10] Jackson observed the battle and retreated with the militia.

Battle of Carthage


Jackson and approximately 4,000 of his untrained and poorly armed militia fled to Carthage, Missouri.[12] In order to find Jackson and his militia, Lyon had split his forces. He sent Colonel Franz Sigel with about 1,000 soldiers into southwest Missouri to search for Jackson.[12] On July 4 Jackson learned that Sigel was camped at Carthage.[12] The next day Jackson led his militia to attack the smaller Union force.[12] The battle line was about ten miles south of Carthage. He waited for Sigel to attack him. Sigel, in turn, opened the battle with artillery fire.[12] He then attacked the militia.[12] However, after seeing a large Confederate force moving around him on his left flank, he moved back to prevent being surrounded.[12] He did not know the force to his left were mainly unarmed militia.[12] Sigel fought a successful rearguard action as his small army fell back to Carthage.[12] He then retreated to Sarcoxie, Missouri. The battle had little meaning but it encouraged the pro-Confederates in Missouri with news of their first victory.[12] Jackson was the only sitting governor to have commanded troops in a battle.[13]

After the battle, Jackson, assuming he still had his powers as governor, called together a rump legislature at Neosho, Missouri.[13] He called for session on October 28, 1861 and, although deposed, officially claimed Missouri to have joined the Confederacy in November 1861.[13] He was given the rank of Brigadier general in the Confederate Army.[13] But he soon resigned due to failing health.[13] On December 6, 1862, Jackson died in Little Rock, Arkansas from stomach cancer.[13] He is buried at Arrow Rock, Missouri in the Sappington family cemetery.[14]

  1. The Missouri Constitutional Convention met in early 1861 and had voted, 89-1, against secession and to remain with the Union.[5] Governor Jackson chose to ignore the resolution.[5]
  2. The Missouri Constitutional Convention met a second time to select a new governor. Hamilton Rowan Gamble, the retired Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Missouri was appointed governor.[11]


  1. 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 "Jackson, Claiborne Fox". Civil War on the Western Border: The Missouri-Kansas Conflict,1855-1865. Kansas City Library. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  2. 2.0 2.1 "Office of Governor, Claiborne Fox Jackson, 1861" (PDF). Missouri State Archives. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Claiborne Fox Jackson (1806 - 1862)". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original on June 29, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 "Claiborne Fox Jackson". National Governors Association. Archived from the original on October 9, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  5. 5.0 5.1 "March 19, 1861: Missouri Convention rejects secession". Seven Score and Ten. Archived from the original on March 28, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Louis S. Gerteis, The Civil War in Missouri: A Military History (Columbia, MO; London: University of Missouri Press, 2012), p. 9
  7. "Nathaniel Lyon (1818 – 1861)". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original on July 21, 2016. Retrieved May 28, 2016.
  8. Thomas Lowndes Snead, The Fight for Missouri (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1886) pp. 164-166
  9. Christopher Phillips, Missouri's Confederate: Claiborne Fox Jackson and the Creation of Southern Identity in the Border West (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 2000), p. 251
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 Albert Castel, General Sterling Price and the Civil War in the West (Baton Rouge; London: Louisiana State University Press, 1968), pp. 24–26
  11. "Hamilton Rowan Gamble". The State Historical Society of Missouri. Archived from the original on April 19, 2016. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  12. 12.00 12.01 12.02 12.03 12.04 12.05 12.06 12.07 12.08 12.09 "Battle of Carthage - July 5, 1861". Civil War Trust. Retrieved May 30, 2016.[permanent dead link]
  13. 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 "Claiborne Fox Jackson". The Latin Library. Retrieved May 30, 2016.
  14. Dictionary of Missouri Biography, eds. Lawrence O. Christensen; William E. Foley; Gary Kremer (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1999), p. 426

Other websites

Political offices
Preceded by
Sterling Price
Speaker of the Missouri House of Representatives
Succeeded by
Alexander M. Robinson
Preceded by
Robert Marcellus Stewart
Governor of Missouri
Succeeded by
Hamilton Rowan Gamble